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Have you made the most important decision of your life? Where will you spend Eternity? To make heaven is as simple as ABC- Accept you are a sinner, Believe that Jesus died for your sin and Confess HE is Lord.

30 Sep 2008

Desperate Driver

One of my goals this year was to learn how to drive. Isn't it so sad and embarrassing to know that as old as I am I cannot operate a car!!! I’ll see ladies younger than me cruising in their posh ride and I’ll just shake my head. Well I refuse to take all the blame for not knowing how to drive. I’ll give 50% to my father.

You see, I went to a boarding school and then did my first degree outside Nigeria so basically those years were not the best time to learn how to drive. When I came back to Nigeria to do my NYSC I finally decided it was time to learn this thing! I went to a driving school, as there was no one in the family who had my time. My instructor thought I was a quick learner and I was pretty excited about the whole driving experience. One day my dad asked me to drive the family to church and men the car (a Volvo) refused to work o. Anyway I managed to drive us to church but my father was lamenting all the way. He was like “you this girl, you cannot drive yet ”. That’s how my dad believed I was not any good and refused to release any of his cars for my use.

I didn’t worry too much as I got a job in Lagos and forgot all about driving. Seeing how people drive crazily in Lagos discouraged me profoundly from pursuing my driving career. I neglected the whole thing till I felt the urge again…you know seeing all those Lagos babes in their Rav4 etc. LOL. Anyway at this point, I asked my dad to sell me his 504 (I know, I know, very razz, but I was getting desperate at this point). Anyway the man went back and forth over selling the car to me. To cut the long story short, he didn’t sell me the car. You can see why I am putting half blame on him although i think he was scared I'll probably have an accident or something. Anyway I fashied (forgot) his side and went to another driving school. I was really determined that I had to know how to drive. I was coming to the UK to do my masters and I felt I had to learn this art of driving before leaving. I got similar comments from my new instructor that I was a natural driving blah blah.

I got to the UK and once again didn’t get round to driving. Well those who live in the UK know how it can be. You can’t drive without a license. Actually people do but it is against the law and I didn’t want to start thinking of the consequences if I was caught and besides I personally think it is wrong. I did have an international license from Nigeria but somehow didn’t get to driving.

Ok fast forward to two years later- beginning of 2008. As part of my goals for the year, driving and getting my license was at the top of the list. I had had enough and felt I had dragged this whole driving thing for too long. Kilode??? (Why??). Bus drivers that might have not gone to school can drive, so why can’t I. Correct babe like me. I was like aloted, this is the year o. You have to get your license and get driving!

So in April I enrolled in a driving school (kai, yet another one) and had to start from scratch. Learning how to drive and then pass the driving test is another ball game in the UK. At this point I was wishing I was back in Nigeria where you just use bold face to “enter” the road. Abi practice makes perfect. But over here, you have to do a theory test before you can take the practical test. All that procedure didn't really bother me, it was the money I had to pay for driving classes that was biting me. Do not be deceived, learning to drive in the UK is EXPENSIVE. In fact, it is an investment. Heck that was why I waited till April to get into that financial commitment.

Nawa o, this story is getting long o. Hen, hen, where was I? Ok I started driving classes and was beginning to feel confident again about my driving. I even mentioned it in one or two of my ten things Tuesday. I took my practical test in June and I failed it! I was quite devastated. I knew at this point I could drive but the driving test was so nerve wrecking I fumbled. On a consoling note, only about 35% of people pass their first time. But still I was really gutted! All that money! Kai! That was mainly what I could think about. Husby was really cool about the whole thing. He believes till this day that the examiner purposely failed me (cuz am a black girl init? LOL)

Ok, don’t worry, I am nearly done with my story. So I took a month break and decided to ditch my instructor. I didn’t have any issues with him actually but I felt I needed a second "view". At this point I also considered going the easy route- doing my test with an auto car, but I felt that was accepting defeat. Why should I not be able to pass my test with a manual, meanwhile if you pass the auto test you are restricted to driving only auto cars. For all you auto drivers, you cannot really drive o..just accept it now now..LOL, who cares abi? Anyway I got another instructor who taught manual and I was glad I did. DI (driving instructor) seemed very passionate about teaching how to drive and kept on going on and on about how many of his students passed first time and how he loved his job. This actually boosted my confidence. I took fewer lessons with him, ta le fe je ni gbese (I had no more extra money to dash (give) anyone).

I was feeling really on top of things, and felt more prepared for my next test. Days before my test, I had been praying seriously for favour with the examiner because I really didn’t want to go through all of the driving test after this time.

I felt nervous again, I tire for me and nervousness o, such that at the beginning of the test I could hardly feel my legs and I was like “oh no, not now, legs you have to perform o”. I made a blunder on one of the manoeuvres and in my head I was like ye I don fail (I have failed) but I kept at it and my legs felt better. I made sure I kept doing my mirror checks (people fail primarily for this reason- not checking their mirrors and blind spot). I wore dangle earrings so the man will know when I make any head movement. LOL.

Anyhoo we got back to the test centre and the guy was like “Is this your first attempt” and I replied “No, my second”. He goes “Ok I will give you a pass, but you know you nearly messed up there”. Omo I felt like kneeling down and prostrating for him at the same time. I PASSED!!!!! Tears of joy came streaming down, I felt like saying one conc Yoruba prayer for the guy but I just kept my cool. He gave me a blue paper to use as a temp licence and wished me all the best. I was so excited I hugged the DI…hehehe. He was pretty happy for me as well.

Hubsy was so excited for me, he took me out later that evening to celebrate. Meanwhile, guess who the first person I smsed to share the good news- My dad!

My sms: How are you sir? Just wanted to let you know I took my practical driving test today and I passed! Thank God. So I am now an official road user.

His reply: My dear daughter, I am proud of you. Congratulations. When next I come to Britain you will come and pick me from the airport

Dreading this already..LOL!!!


16 Sep 2008

Ten things Tuesday (05)

Hi peeps hope you are all doing well?

Tuesdays are here again!!! Another day to give thanks. Here's the link to my last Ten things tuesday.

  1. The sunshine we had this weekend was awesome. T'was nice to see the sun shining
  2. Husby has finally barbed his hair, after so much begging & pleading! He looks all cute & boyish with his skin cut!
  3. Two of my friends gave birth this past week
  4. God delivered me from the hands of fraudsters (long story but it relates to my business)
  5. I feel so much love around me and on blogville
  6. The award I received on blogville from brownsugar is still tripping me. Thanks babes!
  7. Grateful for my pastor and the work God is using him to do
  8. The gift of love and life
  9. Power of healing in my life
  10. The Lord is good and his love endures forever!

What are you thankful for?

Last time I asked what you'll do if you feel you are always making contact with your friends and they don't. I appreciate all your answers and I think on a good day I'll take the actions the same way I listed them depending on how important I think the frienship is to me. The answer that particular struck me was from Abbie:

"About your question, it's strange that U never keep track of who contacts who, I just know when me and my friends get together we have the best times regardless of who called who"

So that is where the problem is- me keeping track of who makes contact first! Hmm. It dawned on me that only an idle person (I use that word idle loosely) will sit down and be counting who called who first and when. Just because some friends do not call/email me does not mean they do not care. They probable have issues they are trying to sort out in their lifes. If I have the urge to call them I should go ahead and do so. Who knows I might be a source of blessing to them at that point. On the last day, God will not ask me how many friends I had but how many people I was a friend to.

I feel like I am rambling so I'll just stop here. However, I hope I make some sense to at least somebody ;-)

Enjoy the rest of your week dearies. :-)

13 Sep 2008

Blogville AWARD!!!!

Yippee!! I received a blogville award from brownsugar.

I must say that I am "flabberwhelmed" and "overgasted". Hehehe.. Speech, speech, speech!!!! Ok ok if you insist ;)

"I want to say thank you to y'all on are too much! Special thanks to brownsugar for passing on the award. And a big shout out to all my fans on blogville. You are far to kind..."


Ok Here are the rules to follow:
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with an award
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then pass it on!

I hereby pass on the award to the following in no particular order:

I so love your blogs (and you) and I think you deserve to win this award. Enjoy! :D

9 Sep 2008

'It's not where you live, it's HOW you live'

I was really challenged/inspired by this woman's story(1) so I thought to share. I had read about her children (quadruplets) in the metro paper but reading the story from this woman's perspective is totally mind blowing. I am so enthused by women like this. Let me know what you guys think.

Meanwhile a big shout out to ShawnDaVinci


Watching television pictures last week of jubilant teenagers celebrating their A-level results, I was filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment.
In my home that joyous feeling has been felt fourfold. For my 18-year-old children – quadruplets Tolu, Tayo, Tobi and Tosin, who were conceived naturally – all achieved A and B grades at the St Francis Xavier sixth-form college in Clapham, South-West London.
They have secured places at Manchester University, Goldsmiths, Queen Mary University of London and Cambridge.
I am, understandably, bursting with pride. Because, although I’ve not had to cope with too many social disadvantages over the years, the fact remains that I am a 52-year-old single mother. And I have brought up seven children – four of them boys – on my own in Lewisham, one of London’s most deprived boroughs.

Proud: Single mother Julie Oke believes it's how you live, not where you live

I have bucked the statistics that say my children, who grew up without a father present in their daily lives, should be academic failures.
All of them have done exceptionally well. The eldest boy is 29 and a doctor in Nigeria, my 27-year-old daughter is a nurse and I have a son, 25, who is a lawyer.
However, it is the success of the quads that has got everyone asking how I’ve pulled off this apparent miracle. Well, it is not rocket science. Simply put, it has always been my philosophy that it’s not where you live, but how you live – and that children learn by example.
I’ve always known education and hard work were the ways to improve my life, and I have instilled the same principles in my children.
My goal has always been that they would break down barriers and excel academically. But I also wanted them to do so in schools with a strong moral code, to complement my work at home. So I have always sent them to religious establishments.
I chose St Francis, despite it being a long way from our home, because it has a great reputation for academic achievement. Its exam results are consistently well above average and the majority of its students progress to higher education, including Oxford and Cambridge.
When I visited, the facilities stood out above the rest. I was especially struck by the principal’s mission statement, which says ‘to be successful in today’s world you must develop skills and abilities at a higher level than was ever necessary in the past’. That is what I’ve always told my children: to stretch themselves beyond what is expected.
I am constantly being told children in black communities are failing because 59 per cent of them are raised by lone parents. But, although I accept children are largely better off when they grow up with both parents, just having a man in the house does not mean they will go on to become pillars of society.

Four times the success: 18-year-old quadruplets Tobi, Tayo, Tolu and Tosin celebrate their A-level results

It really does depend on how you bring up your child. How they see you live your life and the values you instil in them from an early age. Too many single parents, of all colours and creeds, are content to collect state benefits and let their children run wild.
I have been a single mum since the quads were born. I was 34 and on my own but I was determined I would open up as many opportunities for them as possible.
They have seen how hard I work. I have never relied on Government handouts. They have learned by example that commitment and dedication will get you a long way.
Yet my background is not a wealthy or privileged one. My father was an illiterate Nigerian farmer and my mother was one of his seven wives. She ran a shop in a small town in the state of Osun. There were 24 children in all – five my mum’s.

I can remember my parents telling us that becoming educated would mean we did not have to work as physically hard as they did. However, they could not afford to send us all to higher education.
I went to an Anglican grammar school and ended up doing teacher training in Nigeria, before getting my first degree in social work education from the University of Paris in 1984.
After moving to London, I lived in a single room and did various odd jobs before I could get my footing. I was a social worker in Lambeth when, to the shock of everyone including myself, the quads were born.
I took a year’s maternity leave, put them into nursery and went straight back to work.
I continued studying child care because I wanted to open a nursery. I now manage a business that cares for 20 youngsters up to the age of five and have a staff of four.

I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard. At times, money has been incredibly tight. The children wore each other’s clothes and never got the designer gear or fashionable items their peers had. Yet they never complained. They saw how hard I worked and they knew it was all for them.
I’ve taught them to be respectful of other people, especially their elders. Once, one of the girls got into an argument with a teacher over her grades. I explained shouting was not the best way to get her point across and it was disrespectful. Another time I discovered that my sons wanted to settle a row with a local boy by fighting. I explained that violence could escalate and that it rarely solved a problem.
Obviously, there has been peer pressure put on them over the years. They see other kids running wild, doing what they want. But they know that is not how we live in this family.
I’ve never had to worry about them getting involved in gangs or drugs or any other bad behaviour for that matter. It is just out of the question because they have been brought up as good Christians.
People think being a single parent means your children have to fail. I live by my own code and my own notions. I tell my children they are individuals, that they do not have to be like everyone else.
What has held a lot of black families back is that they have accepted the stereotype. They do not realise they can achieve anything they want, that the sky is the limit, that class or colour should not classify who they are.

People have said I shouldn’t blow my own trumpet. But I know I’ve done everything possible to give my children a good start in life. It has taken commitment, time and care but it has been so rewarding for me to see them growing and achieving. And I confess, I’m privately amazed by how well they have done.
My message to other single parents is that they should not let the system determine their lives.
I say, always push yourself. Pray, work hard, respect yourself and your children.
I don’t think I’m unique or alone and only wish the good work of other lone parents with children doing well could be heard as loudly as those crying about the effects of guns and violence.

(1)Story taken from here.

Meanwhile a big shout out to ShawnDaVinci a new blogger. Please visit his blog and welcome him warmly. Thanks peeps :D

2 Sep 2008

Honeymoon Runs- better late than never, no?

The avid readers of my blog will remember that I got married this January. You can read about that here. What most of you don’t know is that we didn’t go for our honeymoon till this past weekend (Don’t ask We left London on Thursday and came back on Sunday. Short, sweet and memorable!

We went to Athens, the capital city of Greece and it was really awesome! The weather was fanstatic, mediterranean climate as they call it. It was hot like naija weather so no complaining there. Besides London is getting cold now. We arrived Thursday evening and went to our hotel. On our way to the hotel I couldn’t help but notice the many storey buildings and a lot of sign posts and placards. It reminded me of Lagos in a way.

I had done most of the planning i.e the hotel, places to visit with the help of a Greek colleague (lets call her GC) at work. GC had detailed all the major tourist attractions to visit. If not for that girl, we for miss road in Athens o. Anyway, I booked a sea view room , as our hotel is by the sea and I was really impressed with the view (not as much as the room though). So serene and lovely.

After unpacking and stuff we went down for dinner in the hotel. We paid for half board (breakfast and dinner). Big mistake. I will explain later. When we got to the dinner area, the first thing we noticed was all the stares from people already having their dinner. As in if stares could kill, I won’t be here to give you an account of our trip. I would have thought in this day and age white people will be used to seeing black folks like me and husby but apparently that was not the case. Abit this people no dey see black person before?? Anyway we had supper..which I thought was comestible. Hubsy thought it was "just there". I asked for butter for my bread and this was what I got.

Maybe na my accent o, or they just didn’t want to give me butter because the following morning there was enough butter for breakfast! It actually tasted ok sha.

Anyway on Friday, we took the tram to the Athens town which is about 45 mins from our hotel. We went to the Acropolis, the ancient Greek temples. The Acropolis is on a hill so we had to do some climbing to get up to the temples. I kept waiting at different points to rest. Climbing no easy! We also visited another place called Ancient Agora. It was all really cultural and stuff. Here are some pictures (will try to upload some more later).

Can you see my head? LOL

Later we had lunch at a restaurant in Plaka area. GC had warned me that people would try to drag you into their restaurants, so in a way I was prepared for dragging. Funny enough because we were farmished and tired, we just entered the first restaurant we found after the guy hollered at us. It was situated outside, I guess because of how hot the weather is, with fans blowing all round. We had chicken souvlaki (Kebab basically) as recommended by GC with rice and potatoes. It was quite tasty!

Afterwards, we walk round the shops on Ermou, Athen’s high street. In some of the shops we entered, we still got stared at and some people even asked “where are you from?” Answer: “London”. Funny enough I am sure if it was just me I would have said I just followed husby’s lead: “We are londoners, ese (thank you)”. When we got tired of walking about we decided to go back to the hotel and we headed to the sea side. As per bush girl like me that cannot swim I decided to stay by the tip of the sea for fear of being carried away by the water. At least my hubsy managed to enter small. The weather by the sea was really breezy and refreshing I didn’t even realise when I dozed off on my beach towel, kai aloted & sleep!

Dinner time, katakata nearly burst! Husby was not thrilled with the food at the hotel and you know how men can be when it comes to food. I was busy enjoying the food…or at least managing to enjoy it and I guess that infuriated him the more. He settled for the biscuits and juice I packed from home. I thought the whole episode was funny and I told him if it was possible to cook from home and put in a cooler I would have but with all them airport rules et al that wasn’t feasible. Point for next time- book only bed & breakfast or make sure we go on holiday where there are family and friends, so we can stop by to eat eba and ewedu or something Nigerian. Or any ideas for next time???

The plan for Saturday was to go to Poros Island for the day (according to GC's bible). As at Friday night, the plan was still on but by Saturday morning, husby said he didn’t feel like going anyway so we chilled in the hotel room and later on went to the pool in the hotel (I watched while husby attempted to swim). For lunch we jeje-ly went to Pizza hut (familiar grounds) and bought KFC takeaway for dinner. Food sorted there, Phew!

I am not much of a narrator so apologies if I have not been able to describe Athens very well or how much fun we had in Greece but we sure did. The highlights for me was:
1) How Athens reminding me so much of Lagos.
2) The stares we kept getting from people, we ran into maybe just two other black people except for those hawking so in a way I understand.
3) The beautiful weather
4) Hubsy not enjoying the food! I have sure learnt a lot from this experience. :) No dulling next time!

Meanwhile today is Ten things Tuesday. I am thankful for: finally going on my honeymoon albeit eight months after wedding day, journey mercies, the gift of life, gift of love & friendship, the different kinds of people/races in this world, my hubsy, my parents, my parents-in-law, my business and GC for being our virtual guide.

Lastly, Happy new month to y'all. This is your month of signs and wonders. The "Ember" months will be for signs & wonders in Jesus Name.